7 Street Food Business Investments That Pay Off

Maybe you have been thinking about opening your own restaurant and have been off-put by startup costs. Or you already have a restaurant and are trying to think of ways to take your business mobile. Then it happens. You see a food truck for sale. Seems like a good idea, right?

It might be, but it also might not. Not every restaurant or type of food lends itself to a food truck. The likelihood is that you won’t be able to offer your full menu through a food truck window. So how do you determine if your particular food is a fit, or what type of food you should offer if you do start decide to go mobile with your food business?

Here are seven examples of street food businesses that really pay off.

1.The Hot Dog Cart

This is a classic, and like many other things, the key is location. For instance, setting up at lunch time near a vocational school or college is a good way to make a living with a hot dog cart, as is setting up near bars at closing time. The good news? The initial cost of food can be expensive but if you plan properly there is little waste, and profits can be high.

Photo Credit: Tony Fischer https://www.flickr.com/photos/tonythemisfit/7012483509/

Photo Credit: Tony Fischer

The cons? Well, there is a lot of competition in this area, and often getting the spot that you want can be challenging. Try finding new bars or breweries who need local food vendors or schools that are just opening or are not open all the time. See if you can secure a few days a week when you are the exclusive vendor.

If you are open to varied markets, this can be a great street business.

2.Kettle Corn

The one advantage you have with kettle corn? The smell. There is little people can do to resist the smell of cooking kettle corn. Much like hot dogs, the materials to make it are cheap and there is little waste. You can bag up kettle corn and it will keep for several days. There are also a variety of flavors you can introduce with kettle corn to set yourself apart.

Location is key, but many vendors work festivals and carnivals in the summer and end up with a lot of free time the rest of the year. Some even move into selling commercially to grocery stores, or setting up in shopping centers and other areas at busy times, bringing a steady stream of business and profits. Go organic, and set yourself apart even more and make more money.

3.Fish and Chips

Surprisingly, fish and chips is easy to do in food trailers and extremely popular. The Kilted Kod in the northwest United States has become one of the most popular food trucks at festivals, breweries and other events.

The key is that everything is simple. The menu is small, and high traffic locations are chosen carefully. When you want to appeal to a crowd, doing something outside the norm is a great idea.

4.Fried Everything

If it can be eaten, it can be fried. So says the motto of one food truck, and it has been proven true. From ice cream to candy bars, Twinkies, and Oreos, you can find nearly everything fried at various events and locations. There always seems to be a line.

The downside? This is definitely festival and fair food, and for this business to work for you, you may have to travel a bit to find the right locations. Still, it could be worth it for you in the long run with the profits you can see.


Photo Credit: Tony Fischer https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomhilton/8749713389/in/photolist-ekbyXp-94DgMa-ekeVjp-7DcHde

Photo Credit: Tony Fischer https://www.flickr.com/photos/tomhilton/8749713389/in/photolist-ekbyXp-94DgMa-ekeVjp-7DcHde

One of the staples of street food is street tacos, and there is a reason for it. People are obsessed with a good taco, and even a simple menu in a taco truck can earn you some great business and a huge following. Some taco truck owners move several times during the day and even during the week. They frequent job sites at lunch, and near school campuses in the afternoon. Evenings can be spent near bars and breweries where the drinking crowd is always eager for something spicy to fuel the evening.

6.The Burger Joint

Another classic is the burger joint. A simple burger and fries is sometimes all someone is looking for, and sometimes they want to skip the sit down restaurant or the drive thru experience. Much like the other street businesses mentioned above, the ingredients are simple and inexpensive.

Want to set yourself apart? Go organic, serve a different kind of beef, and offer a different variety of fries or other sides. Nearly any location where there is a lot of foot traffic will work for the classic burger truck.

7. The Coffee Cart

From morning to mid-afternoon, there is little that does as well as a coffee cart or coffee truck. From simple brews to a variety of lattes, you can sell all day and offer an array of sweet treats as well. Make a good cup of coffee and find the right location, and you can turn a small street business into something truly amazing.


Of course, there are other street businesses that will pay off and be successful, but these are seven of the most common ones that do extremely well. What have you tried, and what businesses have you seen that really pay off in the long run?

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